Politico's meltdown continues: Staffers still demand action over Shapiro's one-day conservative guest gig

The meltdown started two weeks ago at Politico and apparently has barely slowed down since. Politico invited conservative commentator and Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro to guest-edit its daily newsletter, which kicked off a company-wide temper tantrum that even got Erik Wemple’s attention.

Nevertheless, Politico’s publisher Robert Allbritton stood by the decision to include Shapiro among its guest editors of its daily newsletter, which also included MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and NBC’s Chuck Todd.

The “we” in this statement is a term of art, apparently. The Daily Beast reported last night that over a hundred staffers have signed a protest letter to Allbritton over Shapiro’s one-day gig, which is perhaps the longest temper tantrum on record:

More than 100 Politico staffers signed onto a letter sent to publisher Robert Allbritton, expressing disgust with allowing right-wing firebrand Ben Shapiro to guest-author one day’s edition of the Playbook, and with the outlet’s subsequent handling of the fallout.

Earlier this month, the Beltway news outlet handed over the keys to its signature news product to Shapiro, a talk-radio host and pundit who has long been one of the most controversial voices in right-wing media, thanks in part to his incendiary comments about the LGBT community, Muslims, Black Americans, and Jews who support Democratic politicians.

The guest appearance—part of a series of guest appearances by political media figures including Chris Hayes and Chuck Todd—sparked immediate backlash and criticism from many in the media industry, including within Politico’s own newsroom, where employees expressed outrage on Slack and during an all-staff editorial meeting following the guest column’s publication.

So much for tolerance, eh?

The first impression is that Allbritton’s staff has too much time on its hands. Perhaps he could start cutting positions for a while and see when the protest-to-actual-work ratio begins to improve. As it stands, Allbritton could probably live without any of those who have spent the last two weeks obsessing over having to co-exist with conservatives, but I’d bet that it wouldn’t take any more than twenty or so from the 100-plus list of signatories getting pink-slipped before the message gets across.

Or, alternatively, Allbritton could let the inmates run the asylum. Maybe Allbritton likes the experience of having the people he pays demand to approve his actions and presume their judgment supersedes his. It’s his money, so whatever floats his boat, I guess.

Of course, the rest of us are getting a very revealing look at the attitudes within Politico toward half of the people they cover. If this is how they react to sharing their space for a single day with an influential conservative, imagine how Politico’s staff reports on conservatives. Some of their reporters do a good job in maintaining a balance, but the overall message from these tantrums over even being exposed to conservative arguments is that Politico is biased against the Right and probably not well-read enough on them to cover conservatives properly, let alone fairly.

As I said, this ongoing tantrum speaks much more about Politico’s radical nature than it speaks about Shapiro. If that’s the impression Allbritton wants to leave with his readers, then he’s getting his money’s worth. If not, Allbritton has a lot of work to do in restoring Politico’s reputation.

Note: The front-page image is of a shipment of Daily Wire tumblers labeled “leftist tears” being sent to “Very Serious Journalists c/o Politico.” I don’t know if Shapiro actually followed through on this, but it’s a pretty funny idea.